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Socio-political aspects of language behaviour i...
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Seminar paper from the year 1999 in the subject Speech Science / Linguistics, grade: 1,7 (A-), Humboldt-University of Berlin (Institute for Anglistics/American Studies), course: Sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics: a merger, 19 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The Seminar 'Sociolinguistics and Anthropological Linguistics: A Merger' included an intensive e-mail exchange with Taiwanese students. My keypal 'Cherlene', told about the linguistic diversity of her country. Besides, I had the opportunity to read the letters which were exchanged between my classmates and their assigned Taiwanese students. People in Taiwan have to deal with a multilingual society. Although Mandarin Chinese is the official language, there are in fact several more languages one is confronted with in everyday life. Cherlene pointed out that choice of code differs not only between social classes, ethnic communities and generations, but also between other domains of life such as school, university, jurisdiction, the media and advertising. Each of our e-mail partners was multi- or at least bilingual in Mandarin plus one or two other Chinese languages. Besides, all of them knew English or/and another European language. The reality of Taiwanese society requires the ability to switch codes flexibly according to the occasion. This complex situation is the result of political changes, power-shifts, two main, contradictory waves of language promotion, and a strict language policy by the government until the late 1980s. Consequently, it is indispensable to look at historical and social developments in order to understand and evaluate the present situation. This paper is based on Cherlene's first-hand information and the general impression received from the other e-mails. The linguistic information is embedded in a historic-political context, because I was especially interested in how such a situation could deve

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